The Height of Hypocrisy
Thanks to Pharmalot, I came across an article in the Baltimore Sun that demonstrates the hypocrisy of the pharmaceutical industry. As many Tortdeform readers know, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Wyeth v. Levine and determine whether individuals injured by FDA-approved prescription drugs may sue the drug manufacturer. The pharmaceutical industry argues that FDA approval should prevent those lawsuits for several reasons, including these two: First, pharmaceuticals argue that allowing individual lawsuits will result in patchwork regulation across all the states. They suggest that it's impractical and inefficient to allow states to have their own regulatory regime. And second, the pharmaceuticals strenuously argue that if the FDA decides a drug is safe, it's safe, and no one should be allowed to challenge that determination. But pharmaceuticals have cast both those arguments aside in their battle to protect name-brand drugs from generics:
WASHINGTON - Patients in Maryland and other states could face higher costs and delays getting prescriptions filled if a new push by major drugmakers to curb sales of generic drugs wins out, according to health officials and pharmacy specialists.
Large pharmaceutical companies have been waging war against inexpensive generic drugs for years at the national level. Now they are taking their fight to the states, promoting proposals that would mean pharmacists could no longer automatically replace certain brand-name drugs with no-name counterparts.
The state legislation could result in long delays filling prescriptions at the local pharmacy and undermine a key effort to restrain health care costs, opponents and independent specialists say. [So it's unacceptable for states to enact their own regulations to protect patients, but it's a great idea for states to enact their own regulations to protect pharmaceutical profits? - JCL]
Measures favorable to the major drug companies have been considered by 27 states and approved by two - Utah and Tennessee - over the past year, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which opposes the changes.
...The FDA has said repeatedly that generic drugs are safe and effective, and that brand-name drugs and their generic substitutes are equivalent and have the same effect on patients. But big drug companies say the common practice of substituting generics can cause harm... [What? Pharmaceuticals suggest that the FDA can be wrong about safety? But I thought the key argument they make in Wyeth is that the trained experts at the FDA shouldn't be "second guessed." - JCL]
"For most patients, it isn't a problem, but for select patients it can be," said Laureen Cassidy, a spokeswoman for Abbott Laboratories.... [Just like "select patients" suffer serious side effects from name-brand prescription drugs. It's very nice of the pharmaceuticals to try and protect "select patients" from affordable medication, isn't it? - JCL]
Apparently, state-by-state regulation is only bad when it hurts sales of name-brand pills, and not generics. And apparently the decisions of FDA experts are only infallible when it comes to name-brand pills, and not generics.
This article shows that pharmaceuticals pursue policies that put their profits first, not patients. Just like the policy of preemption.